- Spurred in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are accelerating their migration to cloud environments.
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) dominates the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud market with a share of nearly 41%, according to a Gartner report.
- Numerous free resources are available for aspiring AWS IT professionals, including Amazon’s training, blogs, and YouTube videos.
- This article is for small business owners and IT employees looking for free resources to take their knowledge of AWS to the next level.
Businesses continue to migrate their data and operations to the cloud, spawning an ever-growing need for IT professionals familiar with cloud hosting maintenance and security. While there are a number of cloud vendors, Amazon Web Services dominates the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud market. According to a Gartner report, AWS had 40.8% market share in 2020, making it the largest cloud services provider. AWS shows no signs of slowing either, with a growth rate of 28.7% year over year.
Learning how to use AWS can give IT pros a big step up on future career advancement. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of good information on the internet on how to use AWS. Whether you’re looking for ways to supplement your certification study efforts or just want to know what the heck it’s all about, check out this compilation of free training and resources on all things AWS.
Amazon-linked training opportunities for AWS
Amazon provides a number of free resources for users interested in learning about how to use AWS.
Amazon Web Services training
The best place to find free AWS training is on the AWS Training and Certification website. Amazon also offers free instructional digital training in nearly 350 subjects. Each one describes an AWS cloud topic and then lets participants tackle a hands-on lab for practice to reinforce what they’ve learned.
These topics range in coverage, including computer, storage, databases, networking and content delivery, security and identity, analytics, and deployment and management. AWS also offers free digital exam readiness courses and numerous machine learning opportunities. There are even instructor-led classes, but those are not free.
Job Roles in the Cloud runs for 30 minutes and covers job roles for AWS cloud environments. Data Analytics Fundamentals, a 3.5-hour course, addresses Amazon Simple Service Solutions (S3), AWS lake formation, tools such as Amazon Athena and more. AWS Security Fundamentals is a two-hour course geared toward business and technical users that covers cloud computing basics and AWS security concepts. All three of these online courses are self-paced.
AWS Free Tier
For more opportunities to learn how AWS components work, sign up for the AWS Free Tier. For a year, you can play with Amazon EC2 (for compute), Amazon S3 (for storage), Amazon RDS (for relational database), AWS IoT (to connect internet of things devices to the cloud), the Amazon Elastic Container Registry (to store and retrieve Docker images) and more.
Each AWS component has processing or capacity limits, such as 750 hours per month for Linux and another 750 for Windows in Amazon EC2. You need to sign up for an AWS account to access material. The company requires that you enter credit card information, but you won’t be charged for anything unless you exceed those time limits during the free subscription period.
AWS offers a library of whitepapers that provides background on AWS services, tips on adopting services, best practices, guidance for architecting solutions, and calculations for determining ROI and TCO. Whitepapers are available in PDF, HTML and Kindle formats.
The AWS News Blog, which is actually several blogs on various AWS components, is rife with great how-tos on using AWS. For example, the AWS Compute Blog zeroes in on federation, identity and access management (IAM) roles, Kubernetes clusters and more. There are also blogs on AWS architecture, big data, security, mobile development and databases, to name just a few topics. Be sure to check out All Things Distributed, which is Amazon CTO Werner Vogels’ blog on building scalable and robust distributed systems.
RightBrain Networks is a consulting group and AWS partner. It offers cloud strategy, software development, managed services and training (for a fee). A terrific free resource is the company’s blog, which includes lots of relevant information on cloud computing of all flavors as well as tips for taking AWS certification exams. You should also browse the CloudThat blog on AWS for similar information.
Learning paths and videos on AWS
For those who learn best with more traditional classes, there are numerous stand-alone classes and learning paths available online.
Coursera offers online courses from universities and organizations around the world. Its free versions give you access to video lectures and some assignments. If you pay for a course, you get access to all content and features, as well as a certificate of completion.
Searching for AWS in the Coursera course catalog returned 169 results at press time, including AWS Fundamentals, DevOPs on AWS and Introduction to Designing Data Lakes on AWS. These courses are a great way to learn about AWS; however, they do not offer hands-on experience. To get that, you will still need to register for an AWS account and should consider using the AWS Free Tier.
Tip: Coursera offers both individual courses and specializations, which are course collections providing a learning path on a specific subject. Amazon offers several AWS-related specializations on Coursera.
You can find meaty training opportunities on YouTube. Here are a few of our AWS-flavored favorites.
- Amazon Web Services channel: This is the official AWS YouTube channel, featuring playlists detailing feature announcements and AWS capabilities, as well as a specific training and certification training playlist.
- Cloud Computing With AWS: This highly rated video by Edureka covers cloud computing fundamentals, cloud deployment and delivery models aimed at beginners. The latter part of the video focuses on AWS and use cases. At almost four hours, it’s longer than most.
- Simplilearn Channel: Simplilearn has a long list of training videos and webinars on cloud computing in general and AWS in particular. Simplilearn also has an 11-hour course on AWS.
- AWS (Amazon Web Services) Introduction: Eli the Computer Guy brings you the basics of AWS, IaaS and compute in just less than an hour.
- AWS Tutorial Series: AWS Tutorial Series provides tutorials with a focus on working with multiple services and linking said services together.
- AWS Online Tech Talks: Led by AWS engineers and solution architects, these tech talks are live technical deep dives, customer examples, demonstrations and more.
Free trials and test drives
Several online training companies that charge for their courses also let customers sign up for a free trial to decide if it’s worth it to pay for courses. Here are a few to consider:
AWS Quick Start sandboxes give you the chance to explore several server-based solutions from AWS partners. There are Test Drives for big data, security, storage, DevOps and a bunch more technologies and services. Each sandbox is a preconfigured virtual environment, and you get step-by-step instructions and video. [Looking for ways your SMB can leverage big data? Check out these eight big data solutions for SMBs.]
Udemy offers courses that are so inexpensive that many are nearly free, and the company regularly offers discounts on some of its higher-cost courses. Others are absolutely free. For example, AWS learners can take the Cloud Computing With Amazon Web Services course, which encompasses 29 bite-size lectures over nearly three hours. At present, Udemy offers several thousand AWS-related courses.
Tip: Udemy instructors regularly offer discounts on their classes, such as on Black Friday. If you are not in a rush, wait to see if a specific class goes on sale before purchasing it.
Microsoft Virtual Academy
Microsoft has its own cloud service – Azure – so you’ll find Azure-related offerings in the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA). One thing about cloud services, though, is that they need to work with one another to appeal to cloud administrators. MVA currently has five learning resources that touch on AWS, such as Connect non-Azure resources to Microsoft Defender for Cloud and Microsoft Azure solutions for AWS developers. MVA also has other courses for IT professionals familiar with AWS who want to learn more about Azure, which can help IT candidates round out their resumes and skill sets.
User-created guides to AWS
The Open Guide to Amazon Web Services on GitHub is full of practical information, best practices and tips written by engineers who use AWS. The guide is lengthy and covers general AWS information, learning and career development (like certifications), AWS management, and server and application management. The authors intend the guide less as a tutorial and more as a reference encyclopedia for both beginner and expert AWS users. Another good GitHub offering is a comprehensive list of AWS resources to help candidates prepare for the AWS certifications.
There’s a vast amount of AWS information, training and certification prep material just waiting for you. Because such a large portion of it is free, you can get a solid foundation on AWS before you have to part with any of your hard-earned cash.
Ed Tittel, Kim Lindros and Mary Kyle contributed to the writing and research in this article.